By: Laisha Harris
In Harris County, 8,571 people are incarcerated – 7,560 of those awaiting trial. That means 1,011 in the Harris County jail have been convicted or found guilty of a crime. The rest are either waiting for trial or unable to afford a bond. So, what exactly is this issue regarding bail or bonds?
When someone is arrested or accused of a crime, the court will assign a bail amount as a guarantee of that persons return to court. A bondsman will take percentage of the bail amount and provide a bond so the accused may get out of jail. It is a common misconception that bond is solely associated with the type of offense that is committed or is supposed to be a form of punishment. However, the O’Donnell v. Harris County lawsuit caused Houston to re-evaluate their bail and bond practices.
New laws in Texas say that an indigent (poor) arrestee that is accused of a misdemeanor must have a bail hearing within 48 hours. Any indigent person who is not provided an individualized hearing within 48 hours must be released. County judges did not find a link between a person’s financial situation and their ability to appear at trial or engage in law-abiding behavior. Depending on the offense, they may have to receive a GPS monitor or a device that monitors alcohol consumption and no financial obligation at all. That is the case with misdemeanors, like assault or driving while intoxicated.
What about aggravated robbery, aggravated assault, rape, or murder? The courts are assigning bond amounts as permitted by the law. The focus needs to shift towards the local bond companies. Houston bond companies collect as low as 2% or up to 10% with a payment plan. That means with a $100,000 bond, they’ll take as low as $2,000, high as $10,000. The outcome is two-fold.
On one hand, people who are wrongfully accused or have a job or family to maintain can resume their life in the “outside world” while the charges get sorted out. A lot of people are arrested for misunderstandings within the family or abuse of power by police. Sometimes, it takes a little legal sorting out before the offense can be resolved or dismissed. If you’re stuck in jail unable to afford a bond on a situation that is not a crime in Texas, you can lose your job, you can lose participation in school or even lose custody of your child.
On the other hand, if someone genuinely committed a felony assault, robbery or trafficking, there is a possibility that person may be able to afford to join the “outside world” while pending trial. Last year, 65% of felony offenders were able to post bond. This year, Houston families were outraged when 21-year-old Devan Jordan was released on bond despite being accused of several murders.
It is important to remember that even after you have been arrested, you are innocent until proven guilty. Bail is not meant to serve as punishment towards the person arrested. The courts and judges ought not be responsible for violent offenders being able to be released on a bail they were able to afford. The local bond companies are contributing to the re-exposure of violent offenders in the community. They are also providing lower-level offenders the opportunity to not have their lives completely disrupted by an arrest.
The issue of bail and bond is an issue that impacts the community that involves and requires the community’s attention. Harris County Bail Bond Board meets the 2nd Wednesday of each month at 1:30p.m. All agenda items must be submitted in writing to the Sheriff’s Department Bonding Division secretary no less than (10) days before the meeting.
October 16, 2023, HOUSTON, TX – Congressional Candidate Amanda Edwards has raised over $1 million in less than 4 months, a substantial sum that helps bolster the frontrunner status of the former At-Large Houston City Council Member in her bid for U.S. Congress. Edwards raised over $433,000 in Q3 of 2023. This strong Q3 report expands on a successful Q2 where Edwards announced just 11 days after declaring her candidacy that she had raised over $600,000. With over $829,000 in cash-on-hand at the end of the September 30th financial reporting period, Edwards proves again that she is the clear frontrunner in the race. “I am beyond grateful for the strong outpouring of support that will help me to win this race and serve the incredible people of the 18th Congressional District,” said Edwards. “We are at a critical juncture in our nation’s trajectory, and we need to send servant leaders to Congress who can deliver the results the community deserves. The strong support from our supporters will help us to cultivate an 18th Congressional District where everyone in it can thrive.” Edwards said. “Amanda understands the challenges that the hard-working folks of the 18th Congressional District face because she has never lost sight of who she is or where she comes from; she was born and raised right here in the 18th Congressional District of Houston,” said Kathryn McNiel, spokesperson for Edwards’ campaign. Edwards has been endorsed by Higher Heights PAC, Collective PAC, Krimson PAC, and the Brady PAC. She has also been supported by Beto O’Rourke, among many others. About Amanda: Amanda is a native Houstonian, attorney and former At-Large Houston City Council Member. Amanda is a graduate of Eisenhower High School in Aldine ISD. Edwards earned a B.A. from Emory University and a J.D. from Harvard Law School. Edwards practiced law at Vinson & Elkins LLP and Bracewell LLP before entering public service. Edwards is a life-long member of St. Monica Catholic Church in Acres Homes. For more information, please visit www.edwardsforhouston.com
As September 13th rolls around, we extend our warmest birthday wishes to the creative powerhouse, Tyler Perry, a man whose indomitable spirit and groundbreaking work have left an indelible mark on the world of entertainment. With his multifaceted talents as an actor, playwright, screenwriter, producer, and director, Tyler Perry has not only entertained but also inspired audiences worldwide, particularly within the African-American community, where his influence and role have been nothing short of powerful. Born in New Orleans, Louisiana, in 1969, Tyler Perry’s journey to stardom was a path riddled with adversity. Raised in a turbulent household, he found refuge in writing, using it as a therapeutic outlet. This period of introspection gave rise to one of his most iconic creations, Madea, a vivacious, no-nonsense grandmother who would later become a beloved figure in Perry’s works, offering a unique blend of humor and profound life lessons. Despite facing numerous challenges, including rejection and financial struggles, Perry’s determination and unwavering belief in his abilities propelled him forward. In 1992, he staged his first play, “I Know I’ve Been Changed,” which, although met with limited success, was a pivotal moment in his career. Unfazed by initial setbacks, Perry continued to hone his craft, and by 1998, he had successfully produced a string of stage plays that showcased his storytelling prowess.
Calling all teenage student-athletes! If you have dreams of playing college soccer and wish to represent an HBCU, the HBCU ID Camp is your golden opportunity. From 8 am to 5 pm on November 11-12, Houston Sports Park will transform into a hub for aspiring male and female soccer players. Coaches from HBCUs across the nation will be present to evaluate, scout, and offer valuable feedback. Moreover, they might even spot the next soccer prodigy to join their collegiate soccer programs. This camp is not just about honing your soccer skills but also a chance to connect with the HBCU soccer community. You’ll learn the ins and outs of what it takes to excel on the field and in the classroom, which is crucial for a college athlete. The HBCU ID Camp is an excellent platform to network with coaches, learn from experienced athletes, and take the first steps toward your college soccer journey. To secure your spot at this incredible event, don’t forget to register [here](insert registration link). Space is limited to 120 participants, so make sure to reserve your place before it’s too late. It’s time to turn your dreams of playing college soccer into a reality.